Research FieldsAdvanced Materials and Devices, Processes, Surface-Phenomena, Sustainability: Environment, Water, and Energy
Recent environmental and energy concerns have invoked the urgency to find alternative routes for the synthesis of sustainable fuels and chemicals. The use of sustainable feedstocks to mitigate the negative impacts on the environment is the starting point. However, sustainability of the process is also conditioned on the efficiency of the chemical process. One of the key components in any given commercial chemical reaction is the catalyst. Essentially the quality of catalyst and its performance have a direct impact on environmental, energy and economic considerations. Our task is to seek innovative ways to convert sustainable feedstocks into usable forms of energy.
The group is interested in understanding and manipulating reactivity at inorganic and organic surfaces for energy related applications and the utilization of sustainable sources. This line of research is pursued by developing and exploring routes for the synthesis of advanced functional materials as heterogeneous catalysts and adsorbents. We use a combination of techniques related to organic, inorganic and polymer chemistry for the synthesis of our new functional materials. Specific emphasis is placed on studying reactions occurring on the surface of the catalysts and identifying central surface features responsible for enhancing reactivity and selectivity. Our group is always looking for inspiration from natural systems, in which we can adopt mechanisms and concepts and incorporate them in our materials design.
Catalytic materials for the synthesis of sustainable carbon based fuels.
Research is part of the ICORE excellence program devoted to the development of solar based fuels. Research in the group is focused on the development and study of reactivity and selectivity of supported metal catalyst under gas phase reactions involving natural gas (e.g. dry reforming, reaction of CH4 and CO2 to form syngas). We use a combination of colloidal and polymer chemistry in conjunction with inorganic nonhydrolytic nonaqueous sol gel (NHSG) to structure our new heterogeneous catalysts. Special interest is placed on understanding the catalyst surface parameters that govern the reactivity and selectivity during the reaction. We follow our reactions using in-situ FTIR coupled to an online GC to help us understand and quantify surface and gas phase reaction steps.
Polymer based bifunctional catalysts
This research is inspired by principles governing the structuring of the catalytic site in enzymatic systems. We are interested in exploring the catalytic reactivity induced by pendent side groups such as amines and carboxylic acids on a polymer backbone when positioned next to a metal site. We wish to understanding the nature of interactions occurring in these hybrid catalysts and isolate the role of the inorganic sites juxtaposed next to the organic active sites. We use chemical grafting of transition metals to the polymer backbone to construct a metal crosslinked polymer as our metal containing bifunctional catalysts. We test our catalysts in the formation of C-C bonds reactions such as aldol condensation, an important reaction for the synthesis of biomass derived liquid fuels. Our goal is to develop a controllable synthetic heterogeneous hybrid catalyst, having the minimum complexity needed to induce high reactivity and selectivity.
New materials for CO2 adsorption
The research here is focused on developing new carbon based nanostructures as materials for CO2 adsorption from flue gas. The synthesis of these new heterogeneous materials is based on the self-assembly and interactions between molecules derived from coal tar and oilgo saccharides. The approach leverages on mechanisms employed by enzymatic systems for the direction of molecular level organization and is driven by interactions of aromatic residues and sugar molecules. We are interested in understanding the basic rules of self-assembly in these systems and use them in the structuring of new heterogeneous materials. The fundamental understanding and materials gained under this research can also be directed towards materials for biological, electronic and mechanical application.
1. Gazit, O. M., Katz, A., Understanding the Role of Defect Sites in Glucan Hydrolysis on Surfaces, Journal of the American Chemical Society, DOI: 10.1021/ja311918z, 2013.
2. Gazit, O. M., Katz, A., Dialkylimidazolium Ionic Liquids Hydrolyze Cellulose Under Mild Conditions, ChemSusChem, , 5(8), 1542, 2012.
3. Gazit, O. M., Charmot, A., Katz, A., Grafted cellulose strands on the surface of silica: effect of environment on reactivity, Chemical Communication, 47 (1), 376, 2011.
4. Gazit, O., Cohen, Y., and Tannenbaum, R., Periodic Nanocomposites: A Simple Path for the Preferential Self-Assembly of Nanoparticles in Block-Copolymer, Polymer, 51 (10), 2185, 2010.
5. Gazit, O., Khalfin, R., Cohen Y., and Tannenbaum, R., Self-assembled diblock copolymer “nanoreactors” as catalysts for metal nanoparticle synthesis, Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 113 (2), 576, 2009.